The Asia-Pacific Institute for Broadcasting Development (AIBD) organized a series of COVID response and sharing sessions with the member organisations. The first ever virtual COVID Response Session held on 9th April 2020, joined by for more than 150 journalists and experts from 24 countries, was an overwhelmingly successful experience that generated positive responses from the attendees and requests for similar activities.
In response to the requests AIBD, as a regional international intergovernmental body, is organizing series of exclusive sessions for the Heads of Organisations to bring together the top-level management to learn and share best practices of crisis management, content sharing and how to manage COVID related risks in organisations.
In this session, titled COVID Response Session 2: For Top Management, 53 Heads of Organisations and Representatives from 18 countries joined the Virtual Session on 23rd April 2020.
In her opening remarks, the Director of AIBD, Ms Philomena Gnanapragasam, said ‘this was a very apt meeting’ as more than one-third of the world is and still under lockdown and a session like this was needed to discuss and share experiences and content. She welcomed the delegates and gave a special note of thanks to H. E. Dr. Khieu Kanharith, Minister of Information, Ministry of Information Cambodia, who has been supporting and observing all AIBD sessions throughout the pandemic.
Mr Rajeev Singh, CFO of Prasar Bharti and current President of AIBD, remarked that it was the broadcasters’ responsibility to control fake news and it was equally important that the people and the leaders were given the right information, while keeping the people engaged at home so that the social distancing and lockdown remain effective.
He added that by repeating information, messages, old stories and iconic programmes by broadcaster it will leave less space for gossips, wrong news from social media and at the same time, bring responsibilities to the public who was previously not serious about the Corona virus prevention.
China Global Television Network (CGTN)
The session started with presentation from Ms Tian Wei, Anchor at CGTN, with visuals of how reporters on CGTN reported from Chaoyang District, the epicenter of the virus transmission in China and highlighted CGTN’s series ‘Frontline- World Insight’, which brings doctors, medical practitioners and scientists from China, Europe and America for global discussion. She underlined the importance of avoiding politicization of science issues to prevent racial discrimination and stigmatization during reporting, and letting scientist and experts advise on the situation. She further added, `every country is feeling fatigue and needed one world together to fight this pandemic`.
Korea- Korean Broadcasting System (KBS)
Mr Kim Wan-soo, Director of International Relations and Dr. Kim Youngyiil, Project Manager of EBU and AIBD, KBS, did a joint presentation which focused on KBS’s establishment of an ‘Integrated Newsroom’ to respond to COVID outbreak. Dr Kim outlined KBS’s initiative to fight against ‘infodemic’ and misinformation with special kinds of programming. He stressed at KBS, facts are checked twice to avoid misinformation, and KBS broadcast encouraged cooperation among community so as to have one effective voice and not to stir groundless news. New measures for the safety of staff working on site and rules for work from home were strictly enforced. Mr Kim Wan-soo reiterated the importance of securing transparency, listening and taking on `over-reactions`, and ensuring safety of the staff was sure way to gain audience trust.
Australia-Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC)
Mr David Hua, Head of ABC International, spoke of how ABC has extensive experience with emergency broadcasting for cyclones, floods and bush fire disasters but had never handled pandemic before. He explained the journalists, exhausted from the coverage of months of bushfire during the Black Summer, got immersed into COVID-19 cases and how they were not prepared and did not know to identify what level of frequencies to trigger alerts. Nevertheless, he said, ` we have paced ourselves and work from home, even our radio programmes are hosted from home now and sport events cancelled`. As the result, he said, ABC is facing the problem of filling their broadcast schedule.
Russia-Russia Today (RT)
Mr Alexey Nikolov, Managing Editor, RT said Russia was successful and lucky to have low mortality rate. He stressed it was important to let people know of the COVID situation and what the doctors were doing to combat COVID. He shared two video clips which RT produced to show how doctors were working in the dire condition to save lives and how humour was used to produce PSA to educate people to stay home. He added it was important to use social network to check information and to make sure not to incite what is dangerous.
The last presenter of the session was Mr Ravindran Raman Kutty, Communications Practitioner and Consultant, Malaysia. His presentation tackled the 3 approaches to crisis management. He outlined the importance of prevention and readiness as the keys for pre-crisis, where policies and SOP are established, right operational and spoke-person appointed, and having a legal man and a crisis management team ready on hand as essentials. During the crisis it is important to prioritise the threats posed and have best practices rolled out fast, while it is critical to evaluate, review, reports, advise and monitor during post crisis.
During the Q&A session many countries voiced their concerns regarding the challenges broadcasters are facing during these times. Mr Riyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, Chief Executive Officer, Fiji Broadcasting Corporation (FBC) stated that while traditional broadcasters like radio are making a come back, the lack of equipments and decrease in revenue has created tough environment. “We need to keep people employed and sane but revenue is dropping more than 90%. People are watching us but nobody is paying us’ He concluded with a plea “With no money and backing, we are willing to share content in return for anything”.
Mr Ismail Miakhail, General Director, National Radio and Television of Afghanistan (RTA) said that Afghanistan being a war-torn country has more challenges than normal especially creating awareness programme, with conflicting information between the mosque, religious teachers and health facts about COVID. “We are stuck in stage 1 of giving 100% awareness on washing hands, stay at home. Presently, we are just moving onto stage 50% awareness and 50% services where people do not know where to go”. He supported the idea of creating a media hub and sharing of content.
Mr AHM Bazlur Rahman, Chief Executive Officer, Bangladesh NGOs Network for Radio and Communication (BNNRC) shared that BNNRC had started their corona virus prevention and education programmes since 1st March 2020 through their community radio. To date, there are 200 community radio broadcasters producing 165 programmes for broadcast including via FB and Youtube platform. He underlined the importance of mobilising community radio as effective tool in reaching out to the community in Bangladesh especially in this unprecedented time of COIVID pandemic.
Mr Alan Allanigue, Chief of Production, Philippine Broadcasting Service (PBS) shared that the whole island is under enhanced quarantine and PBS has to inspire the people with good news and news of people helping each other, on the other hand Mr Fualau Talatalaga Mata’u Matafeo, Chief Executive Officer, Ministry of Communications and Information Technology stated that although Samoa is one of 16 countries not infected by the COVID virus as yet, they are already working with ABC in sharing some programmes which they have translated in their local language.
Gobind Roka & Suresh from Nepal TV outlined their effective guidelines for ensuring safety of their journalists and daily programmes on corona virus.
- Dr. Khieu Kanharith, Minister of Information, Ministry of Information Cambodia stressed that in Cambodia all information is verified and unified for dissemination, which was echoed by Mr Prasith Sok, who added it is important to follow government guidelines when disseminating information. This sentiment was further reinforce by Mr Abdulwarees Solanke, Deputy Director Training , Voice of Nigeria (VON)when he quoted his column “we need news and information to see us through as we strive for safety. We need credible news and empowering information to share with the community.
Outcome of the Session:
In an incredible act of solidarity, all attending members agreed to participate in the content sharing endevour proposed by AIBD. Although there are few limitations with the available languages, it was agreed that this offer will be extended to the rest of the AIBD members, and AIBD will facilitate this network to ensure success of the project. President AIBD suggested that AIBD be the platform for content sharing, laying focus on copyright and have rules installed for members to upload and broadcast the shared contents.
The session closed with assurance from Ms Gnanapragasam that content sharing is the best way out for members in this trying time and AIBD will facilitate the linkup for content sharing.